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BRUSSELS – As you’ve no doubt heard, the European Parliament passed its controversial Copyright Directive early last week, in a narrow vote which has been widely panned and bemoaned by critics of the measure.

“Well, it was a nice run while it lasted, but the EU Parliament has just put an end to the open internet,” wrote Techdirt’s Mike Masnick. “This is an inauspicious day and one that the EU will almost certainly come to regret.”

Masnick has plenty of company in his assessment that the EU’s approval of the new Copyright Directive is a dire development for the future of the internet, including quite a few members of the EU Parliament who had lobbied hard to persuade their peers that the Directive is misguided at best – and potentially calamitous at worst.

German MEP Julia Reda, former president of the Young Pirates of Europe and now a part of the Greens/European Free Alliance, characterized the vote as a “dark day for internet freedom.”

Google, which is likely to be heavily impacted by the Directive, was slightly more measured in its response, saying it will “lead to legal uncertainty and will hurt Europe’s creative and digital economies,” while noting that the precise nature of the Directive is still unknown, pending the development and enforcement of new policy by European member states.

“The details matter, and we look forward to working with policy makers, publishers, creators and rights holders as EU member states move to implement these new rules,” Google added in its statement.

Google’s point is an important one: While proclamations of doom for the open internet populate the headlines surrounding the Directive, its precise contours and how they will be enforced remain largely unknown.

Still, assuming the text of the Copyright Directive is interpreted the same way by member states as it has been by members of the legal community, there are some things which can be stated with confidence about the scope and practical effect of the new policies it establishes.



Gene Zorkin has been covering legal and political issues for various adult publications (and under a variety of different pen names) since 2002.